January 11, 2012

21-Day Sugar-free Vegan Challenge - Week 1

You know I like a bit of a challenge, yes? Well, this time I’m asking you to join me – so, are you in?? Let’s do a 21-day sugar-free vegan challenge together!

Since quitting sugar, meat and dairy off my diet, people kept asking me "what can you eat then?". This challenge is hopefully proving the point that vegan food can be versatile, nutritious and tasty. Vegan food is not a sacrifice, but enjoyable, energising and inspiring way to eat.

What is veganism and why should you go vegan?

Vegans avoid consumption of all animal products, including food, clothing, accessories and beauty products. (See a list of food items commonly mistaken as vegan here).

Although a vegan diet may seem somewhat radical and even extreme, it can actually have some great health and environmental benefits. For many people, a vegan diet is also an ethical choice and more than just a way of eating. Veganism as a lifestyle reaches across all areas of daily life.

How the challenge works?

You can start the challenge whenever you feel ready. I have provided you with a list of recipes for the first week of the challenge (see the links below) and I will post more recipes again next week.  Most of these recipes will be from my own archives, but I will also share some brand new vegan recipes during the challenge. There will also be some repeat of recipes (like breakfasts), but I've tried to provide a wide range to suit all climates and tastes. I’ve included recipes across the seasons so if you can’t find all the ingredients, try mixing and matching the recipes to suit the produce available in your region. 

If you do decide to take the challenge, I would love to hear your feedback! Email me, leave a comment below or message me on Twitter to let me know how you’re going. 

Let’s go! 


Day 1. 

Breakfast: Sugar-free granola
Dinner:  Beetroot Orzotto

Day 2. 

Breakfast: Green Smoothie
Dinner: Amaranth and quinoa stuffed capsicums (can be made with quinoa only)

Day 3. 

Breakfast: Oats, quinoa or buckwheat porridge with ground cinnamon and almond milk
Lunch: Cashew cream cheese with quinoa flat bread and raw veggies (carrot, celery, cucumber)

Day 4. 

Breakfast: Sugar-free granola

Day 5.  

Breakfast: Scrambled tofu made with firm tofu, nutritional yeast, tamari, olive oil and some ground black pepper. Cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes.

Day 6. 

Breakfast: Green Smoothie
Lunch: Pea, herb and almond crush on vegan bread or wraps

Day 7. 

Breakfast: Soy barley porridge (leave out the umeboshi for a sugar-free version)
Lunch: Zucchini rolls with almond stuffing (serve with fresh salad and whole grains)
Dinner: Quinoa-Mung Bean Patties (served with quinoa, rice or other whole grain of your choice. Leave out the orange in the avocado dip for a sugar-free version)

In addition, every day, eat fresh salads (with avocado, flaxseed oil, sunflower seeds) and nuts. 

Shopping List

This list may seem extensive at first, but if you don’t want to stock up on everything, just repeat some of the dishes you find suitable. I keep most of these items stocked up at all times. They are a good basis for a healthy and versatile vegan kitchen.

*Vegetables and Fruit: fresh or frozen garden peas, watercress, snow pea sprouts, snow peas, green beans, yellow squashes, avocados, lemons, beetroot, cauliflower, garlic, fresh herbs (chives, mint, basil, oregano, rosemary), celeries, ginger, cucumbers, spinach, frozen edamame beans, carrots, red capsicums, zucchinis, spring onions, broccoli

* I've left out most fruit to keep this challenge sugar-free

(Raw) pulses, grains and flour: Quinoa flour, quinoa flakes, quinoa (seeds), rolled oats, buckwheat kernels, pearl barley, amaranth (optional), mung beans, chickpeas, black-eyed peas, black beans, red lentils, beluga (or French) lentils, Non-GMO soy beans

Nuts and Seeds: walnuts, almonds, cashews, chia seeds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, hemp seeds (optional)

Oils and vinegars: virgin coconut oil, flaxseed oil, extra-virgin olive oil, walnut oil (optional), brown rice vinegar, apple cider vinegar

Spices: ground cinnamon, ground cumin, ground cardamom, ground turmeric, ground ginger, black pepper, good quality salt, ground licorice, pink peppercorns

Others: Good-quality organic vegetable stock (preferably home-made), non-GMO tofu, non-GMO tempeh, unsweetened coconut flakes, coconut cream, kelp noodles (or dairy-free, eggless noodles), miso (without dashi), tamari or Bragg's liquid aminos or all purpose seasoning, nutritional yeast, vitamin B12 supplement

Please note that I am not a qualified nutritionist and all the recipes are my personal suggestions only.

Vegan Books and Links:

Moskowitz, I. S. and Romero, T. H. Veganomicon The Ultimate Vegan Cookbook (2007)

Davis, B. and Melina, V. Becoming Vegan: The Complete Guide to Adopting a Healthy Plant-Based  Diet (2000)

The Vegan Society




  1. A very interesting post! Thanks for sharing your thoughts and recipes with us.



  2. This is a wonderful challenge! Although I don't think I'm quite ready for full on vegan and sugar free I love the idea and will follow closely. I would also love to see a pic of your pantry - it must be super organised :)

  3. this is an extremely good list for me to get started! I've been a little hesitant, but I'm definitely increasing the number of no-sugar meals in my diet :)

  4. This is so inspiring! I just may partake for at least a few days :)

  5. What a powerful challenge to start the new year. I'm not sure that I could take a such a leap although do eat a balance of meat, fish, vegetarian and vegan meals. Look forward to trying out some of these ideas.

  6. Inspiring is the right word here, for sure. I need to get off my backside, out of my cooking rut and try some of these recipes! In fact... I'm going to try one tonight to kickstart the process. Goodluck to you!

  7. Hey great! This is my plan for February....January I'm adjusting to no grains - easier than I expected for a carb lover. Love to hear how you go and I'll jump on board in Feb.

  8. Last year I decided to make a sugar-free vegan diet (I'm vegetarian and I make many vegan dishes). It'll be in February. I'm so looking forward to it. Your post is very inspiring!

  9. Let me say... you are AMAZING and I'm very impressed with your dedication. A lot of people will appreciate this post very much, especially the one who just started or want to start to be vegan. It's a WONDERFUL guidance Maria!

    As for me, I'm trying to "reduce" the amount of sugar and carb to begin with. I'm sort of behind in 100% healthy lifestyle but I want to continue, not quitting in a few months, so I'm taking it slow pace. You are inspiring!

  10. This is wonderful - I'm in!! :)
    I just started following your blog recently, and I have to tell you how inspiring I find all your food ideas. Vegan, sugar-free, organic food (with a Scandinavian flavour) is exactly what I was looking for. I especially loved your "Finnish Christmas with a twist" series, and tried a number of the recipes! Spiced activated nuts have already become a new staple in our family.
    Many thanks for the continuing inspiration!
    - a semi-Scandi-background Canadian girl :)

  11. I'm going sugar-free, lactose-free, and gluten-free this month! By the way, I absolutely love following your blog. It is such a treat when your posts pop up in my inbox.

    I would love for you to check out my blog - www.strawberriesandpepper.com

  12. Thank you, thank you, thank you! I quite literally decided yesterday it was time to go completely sugar free, and being a vegan I was struggling with a lot of sugar free pages tailored to 'non vegans' (eggs and yogurt playing a big part in their meal plans). To find this today really is a god send and I can't wait to start.
    Thank you again. Your blog is amazing!

  13. Hi Maria, I love your commitment to the vegan sugar free challenge! I try to minimise the amount of sugar we eat definitely and have even been making my own jams to control this, but I'm not sure we could all go vegan for 3 weeks. Although we are sticking to a vegetarian diet 4 days a week. Good luck - looking forward to hearing about new exciting recipes!

  14. Hi Maria, I love your dedication to this healthier eating plan! Although we have gone vegetarian 4-5 days a week and I've always limited sugar in the house, it's a little tricky to convince the kids and Mr especially to just eat vegetables and grains for 3 weeks. Havings said that we always buy organic and free range products and I even make our own jams to limit the sugar content (most recent one was a plum and prune one!).
    Good luck - looking forward to some inspiring recipes!

  15. This is awesome! We're currently in Mexico and it is very hard to find interesting grains (ie. quinoa) but we will try to make do! I'm doing the I Quit Sugar programme, currently on week 3. Coconut is my friend :) My Dad has suddenly decided to adopt a vegan diet to help with his diabetes (he's in New Zealand) and so I was thinking of trying to ensure we start eating some vegan meals, just to stay conscious of what we're eating. I'll definitely give some of these recipes a try!

  16. So this is Pamela's dad here. I am 'going vegan' but also minimising saturated fat. It is a lifestyle advocated by Neal Barnard (you can Google him) to 'reverse type 2 diabetes'. Now, I do not have type 2 diabetes, but do have pre-type 1 diabetes (I still produce some insulin, but not much), and I do not have much fat on my old bones. But my recent blood test showed elevated lipids (Cholesterol) and I just know the doctor is going to want me to take statins to get those down. So rather than that, I have cut out all animal products and based on Barnard's book, looked for every opportunity to get rid of saturated fat as well - it seems very implicated in raised cholesterol levels. The third leg of the lifestyle is to eat only complex (or low GI) carbs. Needless to say we are having fun choosing which recipes actually work.

  17. Thank you all!

    Thanks Pamela and Paul - so great to hear you are taking steps towards better health through healthy food and conscious dietary choices!

    Hope you enjoy all the recipes!


  18. I know that this is from last year, but going vegan + quitting sugar for a month or so is on my New Year's resolutions, and I'm so happy to find this resource. Takes a lot of guesswork out!

  19. my boyfriend and I started today with the challenge!
    I'm so excited!


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